Bound By Blood: Shane KP O’Neill and The Dracula Chronicles

Martini à la Colette: Very dry and a little dirty
Good evening, dear readers! 
Thank you for joining me for my Happy Hour feature, Cocktails with Colette, which I will have on Thursday evenings occasionally to introduce you to my friends who write in genres other than romance. So grab those martini shakers (remember - just a gentle shake) as I introduce our guest.

Tonight Shane KP O’Neill, author of The Dracula Chronicles, visits all the way from NORWAY! As someone who cannot bear snow, I find the thought of living someplace so cold quite vexing, especially when he is originally from Ireland! (As many of you may recall, I am kelly-green with envy that my daughter will be spending the entire month of August in Ireland.<<grumble-grumble>>This after spending last August in Scotland!)

Although Shane and I  have both written vampire novels, they could not be more different. Whereas I have written in the Paranormal Romance genre, Shane's Dracula Chronicles get our hearts racing for a completely different reason, through horror! Tonight he's going to tell you about his calling, which took years for him to answer. Lucky for us he finally did!

I recall vividly the first horror novel I ever read. My parents had gone to see The Exorcist, and I wanted to see it soooo badly, but they (rightly) refused because I was far too young; so I checked it out at the library and read it! (Shane would probably say that was rather cheeky of me! He also says he "fancies" my books - I love it when he talks all Britishy to me!) I confess, reading The Exorcist freaked me out! But it led me to read Carrie and other Stephen King novels, which eventually led me to Bram Stoker and other horror authors, which naturally led me to Shane and his vampires!  I consider it a privilege to introduce this welcome addition to the vampire genre to any of you who haven't already had your blood chilled by his prose....

The Birth of The Dracula Chronicles

I have always loved the horror genre, I mean really loved it. When I started reading books seriously in my early teens my friends and I would pass around or recommend one horror novel after another. We all loved heavy rock music and we all loved horror novels. Of course, in the mid-1980s we were spoiled with both. Heavy rock was truly in its heyday and so was the horror genre. To me they seemed to go hand in hand. There were so many great books to choose from back then, from masters like…
• Stephen King
• Dean Koontz
• Robert McCammon
• Shaun Hutson
• James Herbert
• John Saul
These were just my favourites, but there were many others. And then we also had a huge catalogue of movies to keep us entertained. Times were good. Not only did we have movies that materialised from the books written by that select group above, but we had John Carpenter and Wes Craven among others feeding the monster. On top of that we had a host of classic horror movies from previous decades featuring the likes of Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Vincent Price and even this was just the tip of the iceberg. I would safely say the amount of horror movies I saw in my teenage years alone must have numbered in the many hundreds.

For me this was the only genre that mattered, in book form and on the big screen. It followed naturally then that when I decided I wanted to write, it would only ever be as a horror writer. I was always a writer, in one degree or another, learning my craft from a very tender age. The very first stories I penned, I actually wrote by hand in those days, were all tales of the macabre that I would read to my best friends doing my utmost to shock and abhor them. The expressions my words brought from their faces were like a drug to me, and that irrepressible need to be appreciated as a writer was here to stay.

But horror was not the only love in my life. I also had a deep relationship with history and all things to do with it, which grew stronger within me as time passed. In time this manifested itself into an amalgamation of the two. And the focus of that became Dracula.

I have been aware of Dracula the vampire for as long as I can remember. I saw my first Dracula movie when I was a young teenager and was forever hooked. At the age of 16 I wrote a Dracula story of about 50,000 words which is likely to end up in Chronicle 8 or 9 of The Dracula Chronicles. Dracula the man I did not discover until I had just turned 21.

I had just moved to England where I knew few people and had no social outlets. Those were the days before us peasant folk had any concept of the Internet or the technological boom that was to come. That left the likes of me with the local library. And on my very first visit to the library in my new town I discovered the works of Radu Florescu and Raymond T McNally, the two Harvard professors who achieved fame as biographers to the great Vlad Dracula.

I read their books a half a dozen times each and then hunted down any other books on my new favourite subject. Over time I digested quite a few and formulated a picture of the man in my mind that I was so desperate to write about. Of course I wanted to write about Dracula the man and Dracula the vampire in the same book, or series of books, as my project evolved into over time. In late1992, after many years of reading and researching my subject, I wrote twenty chapters of my new concept. Then for twelve years I didn’t look at it again.

During my 12-year hiatus from writing, the horror genre changed noticeably, and in the years since. The genre was carved up into dozens of sub-genres with a variety of names under monikers such as paranormal fantasy and romance and urban fantasy. This was okay I suppose, as there are so many directions once can move in within the horror genre. But it didn’t sit so well with me, and especially with my favourite area of horror, the vampire.

I grew up as I have said earlier watching movies with Christopher Lee and reading books from Stephen King and Robert McCammon where vampires didn’t come out in the daytime. They didn’t sparkle under the sun, they weren’t romantic creatures or broody. They didn’t fall in love with mortals, they fed on them. They burned or vanished into dust when touched by sunlight. They were a far superior race that preyed on us weaker humans.

Now I accept that in the wake of Harry Potter the powers-that-be in the film industry saw a huge market open for exploitation, i.e. teenagers or young adults as they seem to be categorised these days. They are there to make money, naturally. But did they have to fill the void left by Harry Potter with a series that virtually destroyed the vampire as us connoisseurs knew it? This left an indelible mark on me. I yearned like so many others for a return to the much darker, more traditional vampire. And there are none as traditional as Dracula himself.

But I wanted to do something really serious with this subject and with my ideas. I wanted to create something awesome and mind-blowing that people will remember always. To try and explore the darkest recesses of the mind, the heart and the soul both in the characters in my books and in those reading them. It was my aim to shock, terrify, abhor, offend, mesmerize, arouse and captivate everyone who would pick up one of my books. I wanted to write a scary-as-hell horror novel with real monstrous vampires, but that could only be a part of what I was looking to create. My desire was to build a world to rival Tolkein and C.S.Lewis where my reader could escape to and become lost in. I wanted to build something that Dracula was central to, but that was so much bigger than him. And I hope now I have succeeded in doing that with The Dracula Chronicles.

In 2004 I took it up once more and over the next eighteen months produced the novel, Reckoning Day. This book is based entirely in December 1986, the same month I left Ireland, and was centred on the resurrection of Dracula. It is a full-blown horror story full of vampires (of the darkest variety) and satanic ritual. It was epic in scale and was well over 350,000 words by the time I finished it.

But I had no room in this story for all the 15th Century material I had written years before that centred on Dracula’s conversion from man to vampire and his early years as a vampire. Hence I re-wrote those chapters in a new book, Bound By Blood, which I got done in six months and 260,000 words, and The Dracula Chronicles series was born. That only covered the period from Dracula’s death in 1476 to 1612. I still hadn’t written
anything of Dracula the man.

I figured I would write ten chapters or so and put them in at the start of Bound By Blood. Another six months and 250,000 words later I had only covered the period in Dracula’s life from 1431 to 1456 and was forced to make that a book in its own right. The Gates Of Babylon became Chronicle 1, meaning I had to write a second book to bridge the gap up to 1476 and Bound By Blood.

I have since had to break The Gates Of Babylon into two as well. When I began the re-writes for it in March this year, the first half of the book took on a life of its own and became a 175,000-word manuscript. That has now become The Path To Decay, which is Chronicle #1 and The Gates Of Babylon will be Chronicle #2, hopefully to surface by March next year. There may have to be two more books then to precede Bound By Blood.

I was so happy to do this. To write these novels about the real life and the real world of the historical Vlad Dracula was a wonderful experience. I am creating a small handful of historical epics in the process and have built the most incredible profile one of history’s most amazing, yet most misunderstood men. I have read many fictional novels written about the historical Vlad Dracula. And whereas I have seen some noble attempts to capture the essence of this incredible man, I have not seen any that have satisfied me personally as a student of his life. This was a real incentive for me in writing The Path To Decay and The Gates Of Babylon. I am confident I have created the most complete picture of who he really was. To do this and build an accurate picture of the turbulent world in which he lived while integrating that within my own concept was the real challenge for me. You can be the judge of how well I have fared in achieving this.

But these earlier Chronicles are not only sprawling historical adventures. They are also stories of dark Gothic horror, violence, deep romance, political intrigue, religious corruption, paranormal fantasy and erotica. By crossing into various genres while trying to remain true to its horror foundation, I have endeavoured to add more meat to the bones of the story and give much more depth to my characters.

It is here my concept has really taken shape and here I have built the premise of Lucifer wanting to ascend again to Heaven through the destruction of the institution of the Catholic Church.

God’s creation of man led to a split in Heaven and a division of the angels as a result of Lucifer’s jealousy. The First Great War of the Angels followed, which resulted in Lucifer and his followers being cast out. The war raged on and to end it, God agreed a truce with Lucifer. The main condition of this was that Lucifer could contest the soul of every living being, as long as he did not interfere with their free will. Should he control more souls than God at any time then he can ascend again to Heaven and signal the end for mankind.

When the battle for souls runs close, the Crucifixion eradicates man’s sins and undoes all of Lucifer’s work. The Catholic Church stands as a reminder of that great victory over him. Lucifer then realises if he can destroy the institution of the Catholic Church and bring down the last great icon of God, he can then turn man against God once more. He searches for a millennium for the right candidate to see through this immense task and decides on the young Vlad Dracula as the instrument to achieve his ends.

The series follows the life of Vlad Dracula from birth and Lucifer’s manipulation of him. It follows too the life of his brother, Andrei, who is God’s weapon to counter the work of Lucifer. It is a journey through the ages set against the real world of Vlad Dracula that moves on through the lives of all the major players in history. I could sit here for hours to try and describe the true scope of this concept and project. This post is really just scratching at the surface. If I had to describe my books in a sentence comparable to an idea people are familiar with I would say The Dracula Chronicles is a darker, more sensual and more expansive version of The Game Of Thrones.

Currently, I have two of The Dracula Chronicles available; #5 Bound By Blood – Volume 1; and #6 Bound By Blood – Volume 2.  I released these two titles first to give my reader the vampire first. A second edition of both titles, with new covers, will be available from the New Year. If you’d like a sample of these first, you can pick up a prequel, Birth Of The Monster. An audio version, narrated by me, of Birth Of The Monster, will be available soon also.

In the next month I will be releasing The Lamb Of God, a prequel to the entire series. That too will have an audio version available narrated by myself. In September then Chronicle #1 The Path To Decay will see its release, going back to the very night both Vlad and Andrei are born.

I welcome you to join me on this fascinating journey through the ages.

The Dracula Chronicles Now Available from Amazon US and Amazon UK!

Excerpt from Bound by Blood - Volume 1

Chapter 21 - A location near Cluj in Transylvania. March 1502. Dracula’s twin soul, Andrei, is waking with his wife in their tent.

Antonia awoke at the crack of dawn. The morning was cold. She thought about getting up, but did not feel too good. It was warm beneath the blanket. She decided to remain there and snuggled into her husband.

Andrei groaned in his sleep. She smiled at the familiar sound. They had not spent much time apart in their fifty-four years of marriage. One night a month he sloped off. At sunset on the thirteenth day the Dark Ones could see him. It meant he had to go well away from his loved ones. He would find a quiet spot to hide and build up his defences. Then and only then were they ever away from each other.

She groaned too. Her bones felt stiff and ached when she moved. For a while she had not felt too well. Andrei sensed it, but she never let on. When he did ask she assured him she was fine. They had known each other from birth and wed at seventeen. He trusted her word even though he sensed otherwise.

He felt warm as always. She moved her knees in behind his and moulded into him until they were one. The padding beneath them was a comfort. She was glad of it. They needed it at their age sleeping against the hard ground.

That was one of the many things she loved about him. He did everything he could to ensure her comfort. She deserved it he said. Everything he had she had given to him. Six sons in their first ten years together.

After the split with the tribe many years ago they raised and nurtured their sons alone. She watched her boys grow into fine young men. Each one was the image of their father in one way or another. He proved the perfect role model.

In time her boys all fell in love and married. Their wives joined them so as not to break the family unit. The unions produced another twenty children. Eight of those had married to produce a half a dozen more. It capped a perfect life for her. She lay there thinking if her time came now she could have no complaints.

Andrei stirred when she moved against him. He reached back with a hand and rubbed her thigh. She wrapped an arm around him and snuggled up closer. “Good morning, my love,” she whispered.

He shifted slowly around to face her. His body ached too. “You are awake?”

“I always wake before you,” she smiled.

“That is what you keep telling me.”

She reached her head up a touch to kiss him. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

He pulled her in closer. They locked in a tight embrace and kissed again, slowly.

“You are such a beautiful man,” she said, barely above a whisper.

“I am what you have made me.”

“No, my love. This has always been you.”

“It is as well for me then that I am. Or you may not have loved me.”

“I have always loved you. How could I not?”

“It helps me know how lucky I have been when you say such things.”

“I am the lucky one,” she said, kissing his neck gently. “I have been blessed. I and our children. What more could a woman ever want from a man than you have given me?”

He held her tight in his arms. The same rush of love that had passed through him almost every day of his life did so again. “You still take my breath away.”

She nuzzled into his neck. “Thank you,” she said. “You have given me a wonderful life.”

He pulled away a touch. “You say that as though it is about to come to an end?”

“We are old, Andrei. It cannot be that far away. For either of us.”

“Well not quite yet. I am not ready for you to go.”

“Do we have a say in such things?”

“I do. You know I have stopped people from crossing over.”

“Yes I know. But promise me one thing.”

“What, my love?”

“When it is my time, let me go.”

“It is not your time.”

“Promise me.”

He sighed. “I promise.”

“My body is tired. I do not know how much more it can give me.”

“You need to rest. That is all. We will not travel for a time.”

“A rest will be nice.”

“Until you feel better. I am not ready to carry on without you yet.”

“We can never be ready for such things.”

“Not I anyway. My earliest memories are all of you.”

“Mine too.”

“I love you, Antonia.”

“And I love you, Andrei.”

He heard her gasp quietly. “Antonia?”

Her body fell limp at his side.

“Antonia?” he said again. He moved back and sat up.

He looked down at his wife. She lay with her eyes closed and her lips slightly apart. Tears welled in his eyes. He knew she had gone. A terrible feeling crawled through him from the pit of his stomach. A feeling of dread and loss.

He raised her up in his arms and cradled her head into his chest. Her hair still smelt so good. He stroked it softly, as he rocked her gently back and forth.

The tears flowed freely down his face. “How can I go on without you?” he cried quietly. “I do not want to.”

He felt so tempted to lay her down and breathe life back into her. Many times in his life he had done such a thing. But he knew he could not do that for her. He promised her that he would not. She knew it was her time. That is why she said it.

Andrei looked up. Her soul rose from her body. It stood only a foot away, looking somewhere far off. He reached out to touch it, but his hand passed through.

“Please do not take her from me yet,” he begged. “Give me a little more time.”

He hummed a soft tune. It was the one she loved most of all of the few he kept in his head. He used to do it over her swollen belly during each of her pregnancies. She always said it was the reason their sons were all at peace with the world when they were born. How he wished he could relive one of those times.

Her soul turned to look at him and smiled. He looked up through teary eyes and smiled back. “Do not go yet.”

A light shone through the tent. It touched against Antonia’s soul. They were coming for her.

He cried harder. What is there without her? He had not known a world that did not have her in it. Yet now he was going to discover just that. His heart felt heavy. After saying goodbye to her he knew he had only one thing left to do in his life. Then there was nothing more for him.

The light grew brighter and her soul turned to face it. He could see the excitement on the face of all that was left of his wife. It should have made him happy. Instead it devastated him. Very soon they would take her. That would be his last moment with her in the mortal sphere.

Then he saw them. He laid her body down gently and jumped to his feet. Her soul reached out with both arms. The White Ones walked up to her and took it by the hands. He fell to his knees in despair. They did not even look at him.

He dived full length to try and come between them. His efforts proved in vain. He passed straight through them and hit the ground.

They stopped. Antonia turned to look at him. “I have to go, Andrei,” she smiled. “Do not be sad.”

He fell back on his haunches. His heart ached. He needed her so badly.

“Do what you must do,” she said. “And then come to me. I will be waiting.”

She smiled and blew him a kiss. “I love you.” Then she turned towards the light.

With that it disappeared and they were gone. He dragged himself back over to where her body lay alone on the blanket. Lying down beside her he pulled it over them both. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close and cried.

About the Author

Shane KP O’Neill is the writer of The Dracula Chronicles, a new and exciting series adding a new dimension to the Dracula myth. He has begun the series with a later Chronicle to give his readers the vampire first. Chronicle #1, The Path To Decay, will follow to take you back to the beginning. The Path To Decay is due for release in the middle of September, 2013.

The author developed a fascination with Dracula from an early age. Like many others he was enthralled by Christopher Lee's portrayal of him on the big screen. It was in his late teens that he discovered Dracula the man and the love affair began from there. An avid lover of history, he studied the period in which the real historical Vlad Dracula lived, 15th Century Balkan, for many years. It followed from there then that with his love of writing he would always choose Dracula as his subject. He built a concept and premise where he could accommodate both Dracula the vampire and Dracula the man.

Away from writing, the author has a wide range of interests. He reads a lot of books from a wide variety of authors though his main interest lies in the horror genre. His love of books is matched only by his love of the countryside and of course, his family. As an added note, he has lived and travelled all over the world. He has a love for all things historical, with a particular fascination for medieval Europe. Anywhere he travels he likes to search out locations with an historical interest and will always hunt for the ruins of an old castle before heading to the beach.

Stay in touch with Shane:

Twitter: @ShaneKPONeill

What people are saying about The Dracula Chronicles:

 “This story is a powerful and sweeping epic. The language, the settings, the characters...they all exude Classic.”

“If you are looking for a vampire novel that is rich in detail, with historical facts, legends and folklore weaved in and splashes of gore and a bit of romance, this is for you.”

“This book will stimulate your imagination as it entertains you. Bound By Blood is among the best vampire novels I have read.”

“I’m thinking this is a debut novel from this author. If that is indeed the case then WOW! It truly is a remarkable piece of work.”

“I appreciate the lengths the author went to in his research, and commend him for a truly unique and extraordinary vampire read.”

“Overall, great book and a read I totally recommend for history lovers and fantasy fans!”

“The author cleverly intertwines the fictional vampire and his psychopathic family with actual persons and events from European history, ranging from Machiavelli and the Medicis to Martin Luther.”

“O’Neill seamlessly blends folklore and mythology with actual history to create a dark and disturbing picture of Dracula and the time period in which it is set.”

“This is definitely a book worth your time, It is well written, it latches onto your very essence and drags you right down and into the story. I would recommend anyone to read this book, you will be so glad that you did.”

“Extremely graphic scenes throughout brought the action and horror to life with amazing clarity.”

“A juicy mix of history, folklore, fact, fiction and horror, Shane O'Neill has teased us with the first book in this series based on Vlad Dracula. I could not put it down!!”

“The attention to historical detail is remarkable, and the author takes you on a wonderfully detailed voyage through time as Dracula travels the Earth.”

“Engaging and disturbing, Bound By Blood Volume 1 is a wonderful tale on the origins of Vlad Dracula.”

“Shane K.P. O'Neill’s story is as rich in historical context as it is in vampire lore. Setting Dracula up as a pivotal figure in the Protestant Reformation, even going so far as to have him encounter Martin Luther, is a stroke of genius.”

“While this is not a story to be read on a carefree day at the beach, it is a piece of literature which is riveting and stays with the reader long after the read.”

“I don’t care for vampire stories but this is one that must be read. The author has created a captivating powerful epic.”

BOUND BY BLOOD - VOLUME 1 is a dark and powerful page-turner that will question what you think and feel and how much you value your soul.


The Novels of Colette L. Saucier

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